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- The black catsuit Serena Williams wore during the French Open has reportedly been banned.
- The outfit was a medical necessity for Williams to help prevent blood clots.
- Williams also said during the French Open that the outfit made her feel like a Warrior Princess.
- Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, said the outfit would no longer be accepted because “you have to respect the game and the place.”
- Billie Jean King ripped the decision, calling it the “policing of women’s bodies” and that it was the French Tennis Federation that was being disrespectful.
The president of the French Tennis Federation caused an uproar earlier this week when he said the black catsuit Serena Williams wore during this year’s French Open would “no longer be accepted,” because it did not respect the sport or the tournament.
“We are going to nonetheless ask the manufacturers to let us know what [outfits are] coming,” Giudicelli told France’s Tennis Magazine. “I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.”
The decision received swift criticism, in large part, because the suit was a medical necessity for Williams to help prevent blood clots after she nearly died during childbirth in 2017.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King was among those who ripped the French Tennis Federation over the decision, describing the move as the “policing of women’s bodies.”
“The policing of women’s bodies must end,” King wrote on Twitter. “The ‘respect’ that’s needed is for the exceptional talent Serena Williams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies.”
It is an unusual move by a sport to offer such a sharp rebuke of their biggest star. Many feel it would have never happened if Williams was not a black woman.
Williams downplayed the controversy during a press conference leading up to the U.S. Open.
“We already talked,” Williams said of Giudicelli. “We have a great relationship. We talked yesterday. Everything’s fine, guys.”
Williams wore the special suit for medical reasons, to help prevent blood clots. However, she noted that the ‘Black Panther’-style catsuit also made her feel like a “warrior princess.”
The outfit was designed before the hit movie “Black Panther” was released, but she told The Guardian in May that the outfit reminded her of the film.
“I’m always living in a fantasy world,” she said. “I always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”